Ontario government condemns thesis written by Jenny Peto

On December 7, 2010, members of the Ontario Legislature condemned an MA thesis written by Jenny Peto, a recent graduate of the Sociology and Equity Studies program at OISE-UT (transcript: see below or http://tinyurl.com/MPPsattackthesis). This unprecedented denunciation of an MA thesis in the legislature comes on the heels of criticism of the thesis by people associated with Israel advocacy organizations, which received coverage in the National Post and the Toronto Star.
 
Faculty for Palestine (F4P), a network of 450 academics from more than 40 Canadian universities and several colleges, condemns this attack and sees it as a serious threat to academic freedom and university autonomy. It constitutes an attack on the main tenets of scholarly inquiry, undermines the integrity of research and teaching in public institutions, and sends a chill across the university system particularly for students and faculty whose work challenges the racial and colonial power of the Israeli state.
 
Faculty for Palestine is calling for immediate and widespread condemnation of the use of public power to intimidate individual students and faculty members and, ultimately, to regulate what can be said and done in Canadian universities. It is no coincidence that these MPPs are targeting the work of a well-known Palestine solidarity activist who has been outspoken in her support for the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israeli apartheid. These same MPPs have a consistent record of attacking Palestine solidarity activity and defending increased trade relations with Israel. This is a blatantly political attack, and we reject these MPPs’ claim to be motivated by a concern about the scholarly legitimacy of Ms. Peto’s academic work. 
 
We fully support and commend Ms. Peto and OISE-University of Toronto faculty for their continued defense of the thesis. Entitled "The Victimhood of the Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust Education” Ms. Peto, who is herself Jewish and the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, takes a critical look at Zionist Holocaust education. She presents the argument that today, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust are often used to deflect criticism of Israel. Far from being an anti-Semitic tirade, this thesis is an anti-racist reclamation of Jewish history and a denunciation of those who abuse this history in support of the policies of the State of Israel including apartheid. What makes the attacks on Ms. Peto even more absurd is the fact that similar (yet not identical) arguments were made by Avraham Burg -former Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, former Cabinet Minister in Israel, and former Chairman of the Jewish Agency- in his recent book The Holocaust is Over, We Must Rise from its Ashes. None of the MPPs or the pro Israel lobby groups rose to criticize him. In this case however, they were quick to condemn the academic work of Ms. Peto because she is a Palestine solidarity activist who advocates for a boycotting, divesting from, and imposing sanctions on Israel until it complies with international law.
 
As documented recently by an Al Jazeera report and other publications, attacks on pro-Palestinian organizations and individual activists are escalating in Canada – the defunding of the Canadian Arab Federation and KAIROS, the banning of George Galloway, the condemnation of Israeli Apartheid Week, attempts to ban QuAIA from pride – the list goes on and on.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ2MY58RunM

The wave of repression was even condemned by the Palestinian civil society organizations. Faculty for Palestine believes that academic freedom and freedom of expression are under serious attack by advocacy organizations seeking to silence criticism of the state of Israel.

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4 Comments

  1. The main reason Peto’s pathetic paper has attracted so much negative attention is because it’s a screed of silly hate literature that doesn’t even approach anything like the academic standards of academic standards that should be evcomment_IDent in a Master’s thesis. The scandal is more about the poor standards of OISE and The University of Toronto.

    The paper is a lyrical fiction of the author’s imaginings. She dcomment_ID not conduct interviews or research it adequately at all.

    In short, it brings the Ontario educational system into disrepute.

    I feel that this does no service to the aspirations of an emerging Palestinian nationhood either…if fraudulent, emotional screeds are conscomment_IDered worthy and represntative.

  2. It is regrettable to see so many people involved in an utterly hypocritical efforts to defend anti-Israeli propaganda, which of course IS anti-semitic and racist action. The “compliance with the international law”, as they call their demands to Israel, without any demands to compliance with the law by Palestinians supported by the Arab world, will inevitable lead to the destruction of the state of Israel and death of hundreds of thousands if not millions of Jews. However, these people are not preoccupied with problems in many other states that do much worse violation of human rights, but do not face existential threat. Why? Certainly, because of anti-semitism, and all other explanation are pure hypocricy.

  3. [quote name=”Holden”]The main reason Peto’s pathetic paper has attracted so much negative attention is because it’s a screed of silly hate literature that doesn’t even approach anything like the academic standards of academic standards that should be evcomment_IDent in a Master’s thesis…[/quote]

    Excuse me. But I don’t want my children to learn about the Holocaust and NOT learn about the Holomodor, or the Armenian Genoccomment_IDe, or the death of 50-million Christians in Bolshevik Russia (by mostly jewish leaders). Equal treatment. I’m sorry but the universe does not revolve around jewish suffering.

  4. [quote name=”Holden”]The main reason Peto’s pathetic paper has attracted so much negative attention is because it’s a screed of silly hate literature that doesn’t even approach anything like the academic standards of academic standards…[/quote]

    Any criticism of Israel is “hate literature”??

    The thesis sounded accurate to me. I don’t want my children to learn about the Holocaust without learning about the Holomodor, the Armenian Genoccomment_IDe, or the death of 50 million Christians by Bolsheviks, the majority of whom were jewish.

    The world does not revolve around jewish tragedy. I think Ms. Peto has raised an interesting issue. Israel does have a “hegemonic” education when we are forced to learn about ONLY the holocaust. Like it or not.

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